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Although the repercussions of a divorce are never joyful for either of the parties involved, it's particularly difficult when there are children in the picture. A divorce can be detrimental to a child's life, no matter the age. Having the security and stability of their home life taken away often affects children in negative ways. One significant area that divorce impacts children is in their school performance. Parents can mitigate these effects in four big ways!
According to "Divorce's Toll on Children" by Karl Zinsmeister, children who experience parental divorce are twice as likely to repeat a grade and five times more likely to be suspended or even expelled from school. They are typically less imaginative, more dependent, and disobedient. Schools have an increasingly hard time trying to deal with the social and psychological issues of children of divorce in the classroom. Sadly, a study conducted by the National Survey of Children concluded that 15% of children who live with their mothers and have little to no contact with their fathers were either suspended or expelled from school.
There is also the case in which teachers and faculty members blame a child's learning difficulties on his or her home issues, when there could be several learning disabilities going undiagnosed, such as dyslexia. As a result, these children become candidates for drop outs, as their life becomes increasingly difficult when adding the stress of a home life to an already existing problem. These students are more likely to fall behind and have a severe loss of self-esteem and consequently suffer from a loss of motivation and depression.
Most psychologists believe that children that experience their parents' divorce anywhere in the elementary to middle school age are the ones that are affected the most, since they are old enough to understand what is happening but are too young to understand how to control the emotions associated with it. They may experience grief, embarrassment, loneliness, resentment, and bursts of intense anger, causing their ability to stay focused in school or to interact with their peers to be strongly affected.
Adolescents who are affected by a divorce are likely to experience many of the same emotional issues as elementary or middle school children but despite their developed ability to cope with their feelings, they may feel the pressure of added responsibility and as though they are "pushed" into adulthood, causing them to lose interest in their scholastic life. These children are also at a higher risk of becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol as an escape from their difficult lives, directly affecting their school work.
It's not the actual event of a divorce that negatively affects a child, but rather the dynamics around it. It's the responsibility of the parents to help their child maintain a positive attitude and to let them know that they are still supported, even despite a change as monumental as a divorce can be. Follow these tips to give your child the best chance of thriving through divorce:
Posted on March 6, 2012 by Scott Morgan, J.D. [Guest Article]
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